Hubble Finds New Moon Orbiting Neptune
Date: 15 Jul 2013
This composite Hubble Space Telescope picture shows the location of a newly discovered moon, designated S/2004 N 1, orbiting the giant planet Neptune, nearly 3 billion miles from Earth. To see this same image with scale and compass notations added, click here
The moon is so small (no more than 12 miles across) and dim, it was missed by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft cameras when the probe flew by Neptune in 1989. Several other moons that were discovered by Voyager appear in this 2009 image, along with a circumplanetary structure known as ring arcs.
Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute discovered S/2004 N 1 in July 2013. He analyzed over 150 archival Neptune photographs taken by Hubble from 2004 to 2009. The same white dot appeared over and over again. He then plotted a circular orbit for the moon, which completes one revolution around Neptune every 23 hours.
The black-and-white image was taken in 2009 with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 in visible light. Hubble took the color inset of Neptune on 19 August 2009.